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At a time when smaller parties in the State are jostling for political space and

legitimacy, conspiracy theories are being peddled as part of the political


discourse. For instance, during the jallikattu protests in early 2017, a section
of the protesters, with all the earnestness that they could command, argued
that there was a transnational corporate conspiracy to wipe out the ‘native
breeds’ of cattle.
Recently, Naam Tamilar Katchi (NTK) leader Seeman appeared to suggest in
a television interview that actor Rajinikanth was part of a “global group of
conspirators” comprising former U.S. President Barrack Obama, former
Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and the Pope, among others — all
flashing the ‘Baba mudra.’
Why are such conspiracy theories being floated with conviction in Tamil
Nadu? Karthick R.M., assistant professor, Centre for Studies in Social
Sciences, Kolkata, says conspiracy theories are common in societies beset by
political crises, in the absence of a coherent and effective narrative of
intervention.
“In the current scenario, all parties that claim to be an alternative to the
Dravidian majors are thoroughly fragmented, and are seeking an excuse for
their failures by taking recourse to conspiracy theories,” he argues. Pointing
out that some of these theories are quite funny, he says, “As Umberto Eco
observed in his novel Foucault’s Pendulum, one cannot predict when and
how they might end up getting dangerous and even self-destructive.”